Feb 272015

All week long, we’ve been experiencing really cold—and I must admit typical—February temperatures. Today, for example, it’s sunny, but a frigid 13 degrees. Brr. Obviously, I won’t be taking a neighborhood stroll anytime soon, but one place I can take a stroll is through Etsy’s pastel product aisles. Nothing says spring like pastels, as you can see from the treasury below.

Nothing says spring like pastels

At the same time, it’s a great Friday afternoon to work on pastel-colored gratitude books. These colors just make me happy.

Pastel gratitude books in progress

It’s a good time to wear a cream-colored sweater, dotted with pastel bobbles.

Pastel bobbles

Maybe it’s time to cut out the pieces for a quilted table runner in Easter pastels.

Easter table runnner fabrics

Whatever I do today, it’s bound to have a pastel theme. What’s on your pastel agenda these days?

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Feb 262015

It’s that time of year again when one of my local quilt shops, Quilter’s Cupboard, holds its annual Purse Party and introduces a parade of purse, tote bag, travel-and-accessories bags, and just-for-fun sewing projects, as well as related sewing notions, hardware and fusible products. This was the fifth year that owner-designer Cindy Peters held this popular event. Today, however, one of her employees, Sandy, had to fill in for her when a medical matter in Cindy’s family took her away from the shop. Sandy spent the better part of the day alone, but a few of her co-workers happened to be shopping in the store. They simply clocked in, rolled up their sleeves, and began doing what needed to be done.

Sandy discussed and passed around various finished bags and other projects, provided sewing tips, and suggested how each item could be used. Naturally, not all of them appeal to everyone, but I’m going to highlight a few that I especially liked, and provide links to where you can find these patterns.

Let’s start with a couple of patterns that Cindy Peters designed. “You can never have enough tote bags,” said Sandy as she shared Cindy’s Purse Party Tote. She explained that the fabric shown in the photo sat on the store shelves for the longest time until it was used for the Purse Party Tote, at which point it completely sold out. You can purchase this pattern by contacting Quilter’s Cupboard, and the store will mail it out to you.

Purse Party Tote

Next is Cindy’s Box It Up Easter Basket, adapted from Box It Up by Stitchin’ Sisters. The Easter basket is made with pet screen vinyl, fabric, and a carpenter’s metal measuring tape. When my husband saw the pattern, he told me to stay away from his workbench.

Box It Up Easter Basket

Along the same line is the inspiration for the above pattern: Box It Up by Cheryl Von Ruden of Stitchin’ Sisters. The pattern includes instructions for all three sizes of these clever catch-all boxes. Because all of the seams are enclosed in fabric, you can turn the boxes inside out, and they look wonderful.

Box It Up

I fell in love with the Diva Frame Wallet, designed by Jessica VanDenBurgh of Sew Many Creations. This super-skinny wallet can be sewn with more formal fabrics or fun prints for a more casual look. It utilizes an eight-inch wallet frame, which is available from Amelia’s Garden.

Diva Frame Wallet

You’ll never find a structured tote bag with as many pockets as Pocket Parade Tote, designed by Penny Sturges of Quilts Illustrated. The sample we admired at the Purse Party featured fabric that was quilted first, then incorporated in the bag.

Pocket Parade Tote

Susan Marsh of Whistlepig Creek designed a Sweet Retreat Weekend Bag that is the largest retreat bag I have ever seen. I can imagine taking this bag to a craft show, filled with purchases if I’m a buyer, but with my own products if I’m selling and doing booth set-up. If you like sewing with charm packs or jelly roll strips, you can incorporate them real well using this pattern.

Sweet Retreat

One of the useful things that was shared at this year’s Purse Party was a list of fusible products that work well with bags, which I find quite helpful, especially because these are products that my quilt shop carries. Often patterns will recommend fusibles that you can find only on the Internet.

Popular Purse InsidesSpeaking of items you can find on the Web, a few years ago I wrote a couple of posts about bag sewing resources that you may find helpful:

Do you enjoy sewing bags? Do you collect patterns and fabrics for this purpose? I suspect I have more of both items than I can ever use personally, but I’ve convinced myself that bags always make great gifts. Ha!

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Feb 252015

Although I wrote what I thought would be the last post in my “choosing a planner” series yesterday, some new information came to light today about the discs for the Staples Arc style of planner that I use, which utilizes a disc binding system. If you recall from the previous post, the disc binding system is available under various brand names: Levenger Circa, Rollabind, Staples Arc, Atoma, and there are probably others of which I am not aware. To make this system work, the minimum starter items you need include a planner and a set of discs. Obviously, if you buy a planner, then you have the discs, as shown below. This is my vacation journal, which accommodates about 60 pages that are included in the planner.

Vacation Journal

If you need to add pages to your “starter”planner or notebook, you’ll need to purchase expansion discs. Locally, many of you will have the option of shopping at Staples, and buying either black or blue discs. My own experience is that my local stores don’t carry the discs (and other accessories) in large quantities, but you can solve that issue by purchasing online at Staples. The planners can be found HERE, and the accessories HERE. If you visit Coupons.com, you may be able to find a coupon to purchase these items at a discounted price. I bought the punch and planner, for example, for 25 percent off the regular price. Another more economical punch option is to purchase a Levenger’s Circa 1-2-3 Portable Punch for $19. The lightweight punch, which handles one sheet at a time, ships free anywhere in the U.S. 48 contiguous states.

The other option is to visit the sites I named above that sell disc bound planners. One of them, however, Rollabind, may not be a viable option. According to “MK” of Red Harp Ants in her post, More on Disc-bound notebooks, this company has not been accepting orders. When I checked the Better Business Bureau report on this Florida company, I felt a little leery. You can read the report for yourself, and come to your own conclusions.

“MK” really likes the disc binding system and has been searching for places to buy the discs. Her research pointed her to Atoma, the Belgian company that invented the disc binding system and began selling it in 1948, and to a U.S. distributor in Appleton, Wisconsin called Myndology. I have contacted this company about their discs, which are imported and come in a range of colors, and hope to receive some samples soon to determine how well they will work with my Staples Arc punch. You may find this video from the Atoma company fun to watch, especially since it illustrates both business and non-business uses of the disc bound notebook system. Interestingly, the covers shown are all made of a flexible plastic or vinyl, similar to the quilting template I punched to use as a sheet protector and as an adhesive sticky notes holder. You could visit any office supply store and pick up an inexpensive vinyl or thin plastic folder or binder, and re-purpose it to make covers for a disc bound notebook.

After my husband saw my planner, he asked if I could design the inside pages for his own disc bound planner. Looks like his “At a Glance” planner is seeing its last days!

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.